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January 2003
Back to working on the belly. I finally to ordered my antennas so I could do the release for them. Early on Ron Jones had told me that the comm antenna did not fit flush to the belly and he bonded in a ten-bid lay-up from inside so he could route it out later. It's a great tip and all of these little things make the difference. I utilized a dremal tool with and adjustable jig to get the desired depth of cut. When it was roughed in I came back with a perma-grit grinder and ground the base flush. I kept a shop vac duct-taped near by to take all the dust away. My daughter Chelsea set it into place and it looks perfect!

If I had to do the antenna micro releases over again I would have wrapped them with four layers of electrical tape. I broke my transponder antenna getting it out and it created a $160.00 mistake. At least I'm not the only one Amy told me.




I couldn't resist doing some work to the wheel wells. A simple three-bid glas lay-up between the wing and load pad makes it look finished. That and a little filler here and there. The other things to smooth out are the inner and outer doors. I had originally painted them with white epoxy sealer, but they really needed to be re-worked. After sanding them down with #80 I applied some AeroPoxy filler rather thick. I have not been using this filler on my plane as I prefer the micro better and found my primer really fills the minor imperfections. After sanding I brushed on the ValSpar epoxy sealer with a very heavy coat. After it cured I sanded it with 150# and then 220#. The final low spots and imperfections got filled with some glazing putty and sanded with 220# One final coat of the ValSpar epoxy sealer gets sprayed on for a smooth finish. A lot of work, but really worth the effort.




The primer I got is DuPont URO-Prime. Rick Schrameck recommended it and I have to say, I love it! This primer rolls on thick and dries rock hard. The very first coat I thinned out and worked into the pin holes the best I could. After it dried for about twenty minutes I rolled on a thick coat with a very nappy, rough texture roller. The down side of this kind of roller is that it leaves a lot of excess texture that needs to be sanded off. And this primer is a bit hard to sand. I honestly believer micro is easier to sand.

My antenna releases look good, but required sanding them back to compensate for primer and paint. Another detail is making the wing rib flush with my gear door joggle. Ron Jones did the same thing and he began with a flox layer topped with some micro. It looks very nice when finished.



After blocking out the first coat of primer some high spots are revealed. I cleaned the entire lower surface with acetone prior to rolling on the next coats. This time I used a smooth texture roller and rolled on two heavy coats. After it had dried tacky to the touch, I rolled on one last coat with a smooth foam roller. This roller helped smooth out the texture from the big roller and fill in the texture it created. There is still some texture, but not as bad. It all just means less sanding.

I am finding that a rotary sander with 150# works best to get the texture tops off and allowing me to block sand easier. I always start off blocking now with 150#. 80 # and 100# are just too course. Without a good respirator and goggles this job of blocking would be absolutely unbearable. But really, it's not so bad. Once I get near to finished with the blocking, I wipe down the area with acetone. It gets an almost semi-polished finish and works well enough to show how good the body work looks. So far, I feel I have taken a lot of extra time and pride in getting everything straight, but I don't intend to paint this plane myself. I want the final 10-20% of body work to go to a great painter like Steve Green. I feel that they can see things guys like myself just can't, and they will make it show-quality. So that's the plan.

A note on body work that I learned from speaking to Mark Mahnke and Steve Green. They prefer to get as close as they can with micro, using as little as needed, then build up the primer thick for the final shaping. Steve said as much as four coats, block and then begin spraying on the last coat or two. At that point a guide coat can be helpful for the final straightening and blocking.

I'm getting close to that point with the belly. The next coat will be sprayed on and my gear doors will be bolted in for the final shaping. From there I plan to flip the plane over and install the engine mount and nose gear.

A postscript on bodywork: I spoke with a couple of painters and my supplier of the primer. Acetone and all solvents are BAD, BAD, BAD. I didn't want pass along any misinformation. Primer goes on, is sanded and new primer applied and sanded. NO SOLVENTS. It will cause cracking and problems with the paint later on. In fact, I was told that unless it's ready for its first coat of color, not to use de-greaser. I am sorry if I missled anyone. This whole process is new to me and I have been getting so many opinions. I think the most valuable ones are those from the ones who do this everyday.





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